Liberal Party members solidify hold in Cordillera-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Alliances in the Cordillera political scene solidified with the recent oath taking of some 300 members of the Liberal Party (LP) in the region.
President Benigno Aquino III, Liberal Party chairman, witnessed the oath taking ceremony presided by LP president and Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas III Monday at Benguet State University.
President Aquino highlighted the gains of his administration, including projects in public infrastructure such as the improvement of the Tarlac, Pangasinan and La Union Expressway, which reduced travel time from his home town Tarlac to Baguio from the usual four and a half hours to two hours.
The president alluded Baguio’s recent request to postpone government road projects to give way to the Panagbenga festival and the PMA graduation.
He criticized this claiming the city is probably one of the few local governments who are postponing projects bound to be implemented.
He also shared accomplishments in the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program, an investment which he said covers 3-million Filipinos or 20 percent living below poverty line while the country’s goal for universal PhilHealth coverage is nearing fruition with 80 percent of the population covered.
He stressed the remaining 20 percent not covered by PhilHealth belongs to the informal sector, which is now being addressed by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
In agriculture, the president said the country will reach sufficiency in rice production next year with higher value of rice, especially upland rice produced in highland towns such as in the Cordilleras.
He added with this continued growth, barring any unforeseen calamity and tropical storms, would propel the country as a major rice exporting country by next year.
The President underlined the importance of sustaining these programs in the next six years without backsliding.
Roxas said some 80 percent of politicians in the region are now part of the Liberal Party.
Roxas also emphasized the commitment of the party to the people whom he claims are the boss of LP members.
“This is the role of political leaders. Election is not an end in itself. Victory is not an end in itself. This separates LP members from other parties,” Roxas added.
Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr., Benguet Representative Ronald Cosalan, Mountain Province Representative Maximo Dalog, Apayao Representative Eleanor Bulut-Begtang, Abra Representative Ma. Jocelyn Valera-Bernos and recently inducted Kalinga Representative Manuel Agyao were solid in joining the ruling party making majority of lawmakers in the region LP members.
Almost all top officials in the region are now members of LP namely Governors Euataquio Bersamin (Abra), Elias Bulut Jr. (Apayao), Eugene Balitang (Ifugao), Jocel Baac (Kalinga) and Nestor Fongwan (Benguet).
Baguilat said some 75 percent of local officials in his province are already members of LP.
Cosalan said some 164 local officials in Benguet comprise LP with the recent induction last year.
Agyao said his entry to the party would help priority bills in his province be given a good political backing in the House of Representatives.
Official records from the LP show more than 50 percent of mayors in the Cordillera are also members of the Liberal party.
Also in attendance were LP executive vice president and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and LP Spokesperson Erin Tañada, intensifying efforts on party building and local chapter organizing anchored on the party’s slogan “Sa Daang Matuwid, Asensong Walang Patid.”
Party stalwarts Presidential Liaison Office Secretary Manny Mamba and former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca were also in attendance to conduct basic orientation on liberal democracy, a prerequisite among new members in a bid to educate them of the party’s ideologies and principles.
Baguilat added the incoming LP members in the region will comprise incumbent local officials and sectoral leaders from various provinces in the Cordillera.
LP officials hope new members will be oriented and inspired to align their local government’s efforts, which are crucial in ensuring a strong political influence.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on June 26, 2012.